Two tales of record tuna speared off our shores

05-April-2002

Local skipper of Sailor?s Joy, Deon van Antwerpen, is seen here on the left of Simone Karsten, holding the record Yellowfin TunaSA records: Local skipper of Sailor?s Joy, Deon van Antwerpen, is seen here on the left of Simone Karsten, holding the record Yellowfin Tuna he speared and battled with for nearly two hours before he could hoist it aboard and bring it ashore to claim the South African Spearfishing record of 52,3kg. The previous record stood at 48kg. Just the previous week, Deon also set a new record with his catch of a 14,1kg Longfin, moving the record up from 11kg.

ANY fisherman will tell you that boating a tuna with rod and reel is no walk in the park. But to shoot it with a speargun 30 miles off Capa Point is well nigh impossible. But that you should have told extreme spearfisherman Simone Karsten, who shot two record tuna in just over two weeks. On March 24, he broke his first record with a 14,1kg Longfin.

On Easter Monday, he brought his second trophy ashore, this time a 52,3kg Yellowtail Tuna. Simone, a 26-year-old member of the Hugenote Spearfishing Club, stepped onto Sailor's Joy, owned by local skipper Deon van Antwerpen, on Easter Monday morning at 05:30.

According to Deon, it was no mean feat for Simone to spear and reign in the Yellowfin Tuna after being dragged along for nearly two hours in rough, cold conditions off Cape Point.

We were out the whole day, chasing fish until we got lucky at about 17:15.

After spearing the fish in overcast and windy conditions, which made it very difficult to see underwater, he finally struck it lucky.

Help bring aboard

"Nearly two hours later, at about 18:37, he was within five metres of the boat and could only then be helped to bring it aboard," says Deon.

He tells of how Simone was towed for nearly 1,3 nautical miles to a position 30 miles off Cape Point. Simone even had to fight off a Mako Shark that had been attracted by the profuse bleeding of the speared Yellowfin Tuna. This is an extreme sport and should not be tried by anyone who does not have years of diving experience under the belt. If you don't know what you are doing, you can easily drown. " Once you have speared a fish, you get dragged under and around. " If you don't know how to handle these situations, you'll get into serious trouble," he warns.

A typical 'hunt' consists of a diver being equipped with a wetsuit, snorkle, 1,8m speargun, 30m of elastic rope and 20m nylon cord, drifting about 100m from an anchored boat, from which bait is thrown to attract the fish.